Outreach Opportunities Fund Recipient February – May 2018
Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)
CLAS provides legal assistance to low-income people across British Columbia (BC). They focus on legal issues in the areas of: housing security, income security, human rights, mental health rights, and workers’ rights. They offer a wide variety of legal services, including: summary legal advice to outline client’s options and point them in the right direction, guidance to help clients represent themselves, and full representation.
Assistance is provided to clients in the following areas.
Housing evictions: if there has been an eviction and the tenant has lost a dispute resolution hearing at the Residential Tenancy Branch, if a home is being foreclosed upon, or if membership in a co-op is being terminated.
Access to Government Benefits: if an appeal at the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal or Social Security Tribunal has been lost over regular or disability benefits, supplements or other kind of income support.
Human rights: if someone has been discrimination against, or an appeal has been lost at the Human Rights Tribunal.
Mental health: if a client has applied for a Review Board hearing under the Mental Health Act, or an upcoming Criminal Code Review Board hearing
Work-related legal issues: if an appeal at the Worker’s Compensation Appeal Tribunal, Social Security Tribunal or Employment Standards Tribunal has been lost over workers’ compensation, employment insurance, or other employment-related benefits.
CLAS also takes test cases through the court system. Currently, it has launched a Charter challenge on behalf of two individuals who have undergone forced psychiatric treatment. The case challenges the laws in BC that remove any right for involuntary patients to give or refuse consent to psychiatric treatment, either for themselves or through a trusted family member or friend.
CLAS also advocates for systemic law reform. They work with community and advocacy groups to develop concrete proposals to improve fairness in the law and policy that govern the lives of people in BC. For example, in 2015 their lawyers worked with the City of Vancouver Renters Advisory Committee on a report, Reforming the BC Residential Tenancy System.
From Melody Mason on behalf of the Outreach Opportunities Fund Committee.